New Book: Geosciences and the Sustainable Development Goals / / by Joel Gill and Martin Smith

Science Director Martin Smith and international development geoscientist Joel Gill have worked together to edit ‘Geosciences and the Sustainable Development Goals’: a collection of reflections and recommendations to help work towards reshaping geoscience to help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2015, global leaders came together at the United Nations to agree the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - an ambitious and transformational vision of ‘a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and want, where all life can thrive’. 

Tackling the complex challenges to realise this vision requires interdisciplinary solutions, inclusive engagement, and participation by diverse groups from across different sectors and disciplines. This includes geoscientists. 

Responding to and supporting the SDGs, we are delighted to announce the publication of a new book on ‘Geosciences and the Sustainable Development Goals’, coming in December 2020. This book aims to catalyse engagement of the geoscience community in implementing the SDGs, describing the role of the geosciences in each of them. We hope this book demonstrates, to others engaged in development initiatives, how geoscientists’ understanding of Earth systems, dynamics and resources can support sustainable growth and decent jobs, resilient cities and infrastructure, access to basic services, food and water security, and effective environmental management.

What does our book include?

This book includes 17 chapters, corresponding to the 17 SDGs, and a synthesis chapter which integrates reflections and recommendations from across these chapters to consider how we reshape geoscience to help deliver the SDGs. The book was delivered by a team of international experts, involving 42 authors, from six continents, and at least 15 countries (including Ecuador, Kenya, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco, South Korea, and Zambia). 

Contributors to Geosciences and the Sustainable Development Goals

This book is about both science and the professional practice of science. We cover themes linked to ethics, equity, conduct, and partnerships, as well as water, minerals, engineering geology and geological hazards. Ensuring lasting and positive change not only depends on what we as geoscientists do, but also how we do this work and engage in sustainable development.

While we focus on the role of geoscientists in delivering the SDGs, we also include relevant context (political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental) to help readers understand how geoscience sits within the bigger picture of sustainable development and build bridges with other disciplines.

Each chapter includes educational resources to help those with teaching responsibilities support students to contextualise and apply the substance of this book. Sustainability concepts are notably lacking from the traditional education of many geoscientists, limiting their ability to engage in the SDGs. Our desire is that this book will enhance teaching on the societal relevance of geoscience.

We include examples from across the Global South to illustrate the book’s themes. Central to the SDGs agenda is the call to ‘leave no one behind’. Actions to deliver the SDGs require actions by all countries and regions, but extra support may be needed to help the world’s least developed countries and those with geographical challenges (e.g., small island developing states and landlocked African countries). 

The SDGs are both science and geoscience intensive. Our book, and the diverse perspectives and examples of the global authorship included, demonstrate that geoscientists in all sectors and specialisms can play their part in securing a sustainable and equitable future for all.

Geosciences and the Sustainable Development Goals (Edited by Joel C. Gill and Martin Smith) is due for publication on 21 December 2020, by Springer International.

This book is a joint project of the British Geological Survey ( and Geology for Global Development (, and an output of the British Geological Survey NC-ODA grant NE/R000069/1: Geoscience for Sustainable Futures.

Dr Joel Gill is international development geoscientist at the British Geological Survey, joining in 2016. His research interests focus on sustainable development and disaster risk reduction, with a particular focus on the Global South. Joel plays a leading role internationally in championing the role of geoscience in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr Martin Smith is a Science Director with the British Geological Survey and Principle Investigator for the BGS ODA Programme Geoscience for Sustainable Futures (2017-2021). A survey geologist by training Martin has spent a career studying geology both in the UK and across Africa and India. Martin is a Chartered Geologist and was awarded an MBE for services to geology in 2016.